The Awakening Times (TAT): Dear Ivan, thank you for this interview. We are so excited to share your story with our readers.
Ivan Bavčevič (IB): Thank you for the invitation. It is my pleasure.
Can you go back in the beginning of your relationship with Satya Sai and tell us what did you gain and what did you lose in the process? We know that true power of the Master is measured with what He was able to take away from your life, rather than give you something. Did you maybe had similar experience?
IB: I’m sure I did, but my relationship with him started so long ago that I’m having difficulty remembering the person I used to be before.
I first saw him physically 22 years ago, and the first time I saw him ever was in 1985, maybe on TV Zagreb. They had a documentary about him. I was maybe 7 and I remember looking at this guy in the red robe on TV materializing some kind of powder.
I lived in Split, which was a part of former Yugoslavia at that time, and India was out of reach for me. It was not something you imagine you would ever be able to see in your life. It’s like somebody tells you it’s on another planet. So I never conceived I would be able to meet Him. But in that moment I said to my self: “Imagine, there is a place where people like this live, and look at the miracles they can do! If only I could see him do that personally.”
TAT: That was when you were seven?
IB: Yes. Oh my God. It was all because of television. I have watched documentaries about these weird people around the planet, and he was one of them. They were documentaries by Drago Plećko, you have probably heard of him.
And then, 15 years later, I am in Baba’s ashram in India, seeing him do all of that physically.
For me, seeing Him was like encountering my best friend after 100 years. I cried like a baby, just that He approached. I couldn’t stop crying from the joy.
And when I came back home after one month being there, actually many of the people disappeared from my life. I didn’t need to tell anybody to go away, that I don’t want their energy, or anything. No, they were simply gone. They just stopped calling. It was so strange. Nobody was angry. We still had a pleasant, let’s say, contact if we would meet on the street or something, but all the socializing with majority of people disappeared.
And then new people started appearing in life, so completely new set of people and new way of living mindset. So, it was losing the limiting relationships, the conversations and the topics that are useless. Everything that did not serve me disappeared.
After that, some existential fears or preoccupations disappeared also. Because He very much insisted continuously why fear when I’m here? Why fear when I’m here? He would always say it and it was written everywhere in the ashram. Why fear when I’m here? And, Don’t worry if you have me. If you worry, it means you don’t think you have me.
So, it was like training of not to worry and to not have fear. So I guess it’s good to lose those things. And then in the years that went on, I guess I would still enter into intimate relationships that were not serving me, so He would take them away. And He would do it radically. So, I’m still single.
TAT: Were you aware at the moment that it was for your higher purpose, were you able to accept it, or did you go through some kind of emotional pains and struggles?
IB: Yes, I was aware and I had emotional reactions parallel.
Because still the psyche reacts in spite of being aware, but you have to go through that. So I will go through my sadness, or through whatever is the emotion, but I would not lament it or, you know, dwell into it. I will just say, yeah, I know this is for my highest good, but still I’m feeling.
If I was hurt or if someone said something, I would let it flow, cry it out, or exhale it, or process it in some way.
And in the end, I don’t think He took more than He gave to me. I feel given everything: the awareness, the kindness, the service to others, the dedication…
When you serve an avatar, it’s challenging because He’s very demanding and there is no excuse. You can’t appear and say we didn’t achieve it. Because, this is not an option. You do not show up saying we did not do it. No. You can only show up with the results.
I was in charge of nine countries of South Europe for all the youth activities. All people to 35 years were under my programs. So, from Portugal to Romania, all the countries of South Europe. And He gave me that position himself, but he did not tell it to me.
He made a decision. He told the Director of the International Organization that has millions of members. And this gentleman calls me on the phone, I’m in Croatia in my car. I just went to wash the car in that automatic wash. I still remember. I see an Indian phone number ringing. And at that time phone scams were very popular. You would answer the call and they charge you with huge money for it.
So, I was worried. I thought it was that trick, or something similar, but I had a feeling that I should answer it. So I did. The first thing I hear is: “ Hello, Ivan. This is Doctor Narendrah Reddy, the director of the International Sathya Sai Organization.
I said, I know who you are. He said: “Well I just met Swami this morning and He appointed you as the coordinator of Youth activities for zone six.”
I thought like he’s speaking gibberish. But he confirmed, “Yes, you are now the coordinator of the youth activities for your zone”.
I was still not sure so I asked, what do you mean you met Swami this morning?
He said yes, we had the meeting and He confirmed you.
It was like when you don’t realize what the hell is happening. OK, they had my data because I was the president of the Sathya Sai Center of Dubrovnik. It’s not like they didn’t have my contacts. It’s all in the system, but this it’s more than that.
You know, it’s not the way how they reached me. It is the whole thing behind! It was the fact that the Avatar himself was involved in such a decision that I thought was being handled only by the administration and not himself personally.
I could not drive. I stopped the car, I cried there for 10 minutes. You know, you cannot believe that an avatar himself would select you or appoint you.
And so, working for Him, I was doing that for almost five years. I would have had it much longer if I didn’t resign myself. Through that work, he gave me the awareness what it means to have purpose in life. Mission to serve people. I spent maybe €30,000 in all those 11 years within the organization working to help, because He says you are not here to be paid trips and bills. You will pay all of that and you will serve.
If you need to go somewhere to serve, you will take care of all the expenses related to serving. You’re not going to expect that anybody pays for you. So, anything I needed to do and I had to travel all of Europe, I had to pay myself to go there, do the work, organize things, and then you learn. Yes, he gave me a business job that was paying me €2000 a month so that every weekend I could travel somewhere and do His work. And I know that it was Him who gave me the job that paid me. because He made sure I know. When I was graduating the university I was one of the best students in the university, and I had already five corporations who gave me a job. Everything was already prearranged. The university took care that you have enough of job interviews before you graduated, it was their mission, because that’s how they attract new students. And it was big corporation like P&G, Agrokor, Heineken, and other big companies that hired me. Then, in one week all of them called me on the phone to say they cannot take me, that something, something got complicated. Can you believe, in one week? All of them.
So the next week I had graduation ceremony and I’m left without a single job, you know? And all my friends got worried. They all had jobs and suddenly I didn´t have any. They were asking me: ¨So will you get something? For how much will you work?¨ I said, well for me at least 1500 euros a month.
And they said I shouldn´t be crazy. That I should be lucky if I got a €600 job or something. And I said fine, 1100 to begin with. I don’t go below. I know so much. I have so much experience. I already have four years of working in hotels. I’m not earning less. They all said I’m crazy.
So, in that moment I don’t have a single job, many are laughing that I don´t have a job and don’t want to work for less than some amount. Then in the graduation ceremony a professor from the USA asks me to go with him for one month, traveling Croatia, translating, and he said he can’t pay me because he´s doing a doctor thesis, but he would pay all the costs. So I would have one month in hotels and only need to translate one hour a day for him from Croatian to English. And I would have free holidays for a one month. And I said, oh this is from Swami. I’m like yeah, I got holidays after four years working and the university, everything. You know, I didn’t have a break, so I was suddenly given one month. Best time to travel the whole coast of Croatia with this guy. At the end of that one month, on the last trip we were going from Dubrovnik to Lopud Island. Professor of mathematics asked if he could come with two of us to this hotel for an interview? And we said yes. We were on the boat and the mathematics teacher says: so Ivan, where are you going to work? I said I have no clue. And he said, what do you mean, you’re the best student. You certainly have like 10 jobs waiting for you. I said no, no, they all cancelled. He said, well, I’ll give you a number. Call this guy, he called me the other day to ask if I knew somebody to manage an art gallery, I thought, fine, I don’t know anything about managing art galleries, but you know, you should accept the clues. If Life puts this guy on the boat and he’s giving me a number the only thing I can do is say Yes and call. So I did. I called and a guy answers and I said that I’m calling for this job in the art gallery. And he says ah yes, yes, her Imperial Royal Highness is not available today, but she can meet you next week for the interview. Imperial royal highness?
Yes, and I thought I misheard. And then he says yes, the archduchess will come to Dubrovnik next week. And I said OK. Then I went to search which archduchess has something in Dubrovnik and I realized it’s the Francesca von Habsburg from Austria. Well, it’s not an art gallery. The teacher got it wrong. It’s a job to coordinate the activities of her company in Croatia that deals with restoration of monuments, contemporary art exhibitions, travels, construction, lot of things. It’s not just an art gallery. Anyway, I’m going to this meeting with this woman. It’s maybe the beginning of July. I’m dressed in a suit with a tie to make an impression.
I’m sweating like a pig there in Dubrovnik you know, at 35 degrees Celsius. And we meet in a bar, she comes almost from the beach, and we start talking and she said, great, so today is Friday, so tomorrow you will come with me on my yacht. We are going that you see everything that you will be doing. And I said, So you are taking me to for this job. She says yes. I have one condition, that you never dress like this again. Are you crazy? It’s summer. You have to be relaxed.
TAT: It’s a dream, boss, yeah.
IB: And, she said, well, you know, the director will call you to arrange the documents, contracts, and everything.
I’ll give you the salary €1100, the number I said to my university colleagues, and the next day I was with her on her yacht, traveling there, Adriatic, looking at the islands, and then she says, Okay, so the next day I’m going to Salzburg, to my castle, you’ll come with me in my airplane. So on my second job day, I was in her private jet. Anyway, I come back from there from that trip to see the headquarters, to see everything, and I come back to Dubrovnik where she bought this Baroque palace that will be the headquarters of the company and her residence. It’s empty. There is no furniture because we need to now furnish it. And it was my job to set up the office administration and hire employees since there was nothing. It was just beginning. So, I enter this enormous space, no chair, nothing. It’s just walls. And there is an ancient cupboard in the wall, like 200 years old. And I opened the cupboard and a photo of Sai Baba is taped on the door.
TAT: Yeah. I figured that out.
IB: So yeah. So I went to ask her, is that your photo in the cupboard? She said no.
She said, I know who that is, but I didn’t put the photo there. I don’t have his photos. So you see, I don’t know who put it. It doesn’t matter. But messages are clear. So I always feel that he is the provider of everything I have at the end. But when I say him, I don’t mean the character, the personality. For me, it’s easier to relate to this immaterial, formless God, if it has a face that I can talk to or get angry at.
TAT: How can you get angry at Him (Sathya Sai)?
IB: Easily. Really. Yes, because any anger I have towards anybody I direct to him if it surges out.
Because he told that anything that surges out to give to him, don’t send to anybody. They don’t deserve it.
TAT: Surrender to Him.
IB: Yeah, surrender everything. And it’s pleasurable even to get angry at your teacher because that breaks the walls of separation. That is the most intimate thing, getting angry at each other.
TAT: That’s interesting.
IB: I mean it is because you are safe. You feel safe enough that you can express, express it without the need to destroy. I mean, you are actually seeking for equilibrium, for understanding, and emotions are bothering you. You don’t have the clarity because emotions are water, so when it gets disturbed it’s foggy.
So emotions blur our mental clarity, and talking or expressing how you feel actually settles the dust and it becomes clear. The water becomes clear. And what I do often, really, I ask Swami to sit on the chair and then I talk. I mean, I talk physically so that my vocal cords express it. Or if I’m in the bed, I just say, OK, I imagine that he’s there, yes?
TAT: Are we all material for spiritual teachers and does everyone need a guru?
IB: Potentially you could say anybody can learn to cook or do any job. So yes, anybody could be. But not everybody’s going to be, because it’s not part of their predisposition or calling in life. It’s not a necessity to be a spiritual teacher in order to be an awakened being. Yes, one does not condition the existence of the other, but everybody is predisposed to be an awakened being. And what was the other question? Do we all need a guru? A beacon?
IB: I honestly don’t know. It served me a lot. It served me.
To have an inspiration, to have something to look into, to admire, because admiration is a sign that you would like to live like that. It’s not admiration like putting somebody on a pedestal and saying I will never be like that. No. If you choose to have a teacher or if a teacher chooses you and it does happens like that, you should strive to that what you admire that you realize that actually you are wanting those qualities to be part of your life. And in this way the teacher serves also.
If you don’t, if you lack clarity or maybe it is just one sentence you need then the teacher has served you forever. So, I don’t see a rule about this. But if we look historically, the civilizations that were well developed even in in Europe, in classical Greece, people would have teachers. They didn’t call them gurus, but they were teachers who taught them life, not only to read and to count, but they taught them life. And this I think is important. It’s important that life is taught.
TAT: They say that your teacher or your guru is the purest reflection of your highest possible.
IB: Well, however, we do if we have. If we need more, we have more.
TAT: I have one more question regarding the future of Satya Sai’s consciousness being spread, meaning we are the witnesses that the world is recognizing Masters only after they leave their physical bodies.
How do you see the future of Satya Sai’s organization and spreading of His teachings? They say that here in the Balkans His consciousness is still really, really strong here.
IB: I’m not predicting the future.
I think naturally after the passing of a teacher there is always a decline and let’s say a lack of physical presence. But what makes Sai Satya Sai’s mission unique is that he decided that he needs to come in three incarnations one after another because the job is so great.
And Satya Sai was the 2nd. But he prepared everything, ashrams, hospitals, universities, schools, and millions of people so that when he comes in the third body, he is not starting from zero. He’s starting from millions of people already trained and ready.
With the infrastructure of airports and schools and everything ready, everything is ready. So I know that my future will bring instructions when we are all called to fill some role in the mission.
Life never loses time or energy and this space between 2 embodiments was left for us all to become strong, to realize fully who we are, and to keep dedicated even in the absence of the physical presence, to keep nurturing this. That’s the biggest challenge. Right?
TAT: Yes. Stay in the consciousness because yeah, we got attached to the physical.
IB: But for me, there was no other possibility. I was not given a choice, and I don’t think any of us were given a choice. So you only get to accept the choice you were given, which is stay in the awareness, stay in the presence, stay in the dedication.
TAT: Thank you.
IB: Thank you. It was my pleasure.